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1994: STONES TOPPED OFF BIG YEAR FOR BIG CONCERTS IN S.L.

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People are still talking about the Rolling Stones concert at Rice Stadium a couple of months back.

"It's still in my mind," said Deer Valley lodging accountant Dave Wright. "It was one of the best shows of my life."For Jim McNeil, the president of local events promoter United Concerts, the Stones' show nicely topped an eventful summer.

"That was our official `end of the summer' show," McNeil, 47, said as he sat back in his office chair. "Something happened that night you don't see very often at a rock concert. It felt good to be there. There was a sense of community togetherness and there weren't any major security problems. It was a memorable night and we were real lucky."

But the Rolling Stones was only one of the major acts to breeze through Utah in 1994.

"We've had a big year," McNeil said.

A big year is an understatement. Metallica, Phil Collins, James Taylor, Indigo Girls, the Steve Miller Band, the Moody Blues with the Utah Symphony, Depeche Mode, Yanni and Harry Connick Jr. are just a few of the big names United Concerts was able to book. Dan Fogelberg, Candlebox and Spin Doctors also came through.

The first concert McNeil and United Concerts put together was the Steve Miller Band in 1964. And for almost 22 years the agency, begun in an old mansion on South Temple in 1963, has helped put Salt Lake City on the musical calendar all over the world.

An important part of United Concert's success is, simply, information, McNeil said.

"We try to keep on top of the music and trends," he said. "There are quite a few business trade materials we use. Promotional packages and association with the artists' promoters themselves gives us an edge on what's going on. I go to record stores a lot. It's also important to spend time at those stores talking with managers and customers" and to buy products for sampling. "We also keep close contact with radio stations."

"There are so many good bands out there," McNeil said. "As far as alternative music goes, I would have to say Nine Inch Nails is one of the premier bands. Then there's the Cranberries, Green Day and Offspring."

In addition to music trade sources, McNeil said United Concerts keeps close ties with Smith'sTix and is in partnership with radio station X-96 (KXRK 96.1). But live shows aren't the only thing the company promotes.

"We also have a part in corporate events," McNeil said. "We are involved with the World Cup Competition in Park City, and we help Smith's with the (hot air) balloon festival. We are scheduled for two more shows next summer. So there's quite a variety of things United Concerts does."

Still, music is the company's base. He operates such venues as the Wolf Mountain amphitheater and Saltair, McNeil said, and he has good ties with the University of Utah's Huntsman Center and Brigham Young University's Marriott Center, as well as the Delta Center, which he considers United Concert's home.

"We have a great relationship with Mr. (Larry H.) Miller," he said. "We also schedule events at the Capitol Theater, Symphony Hall and Kingsbury Hall when it opens. And we're currently looking at the Triad Center for future shows."

While United Concerts keeps its eye on the future, McNeil said there's no telling what the next music trend will be.

"Groups nowadays have a hard time staying together," McNeil said. "Today's groups don't have the longevity other groups of the '70s and '80s had. They tend to self-destruct more easily and are angrier. Who knows what Nirvana would have evolved to. Or Guns 'N Roses, you know? Who knows?"